The Nashville Predators will take on the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the Pepsi Center in Denver in a game that features arguably the top two prospects from the 2013 NHL draft class.
Colorado took highly touted forward Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall pick this past summer, passing up Seth Jones who eventually fell to Nashville at the number four overall pick. Jones and MacKinnon will probably be forever linked as the headliners of a draft class that has the potential to be one of the best in the history of the NHL.
Since both of them have been highly touted prospects over the past couple years, Jones and MacKinnon have gotten to know each other pretty well over the past few years.
“He’s a great kid,” Jones said. “Over the past couple years I’ve seen him quite a bit.”
Jones and MacKinnon saw each other once again last season in the Memorial Cup Final. MacKinnon’s Halifax Mooseheads escaped with a 6-4 win over Jones’ Portland Winterhawks. MacKinnon had three goals and two assists in the game, which went a long way toward cementing himself as the top pick of the draft over Jones.
MacKinnon made his NHL debut with the Avalanche on Wednesday night, registering two assists against the Anaheim Ducks. Jones made his NHL debut Thursday night against St. Louis and finished with a plus-2 rating and three shots on goal in 18:35 of ice time. Both looked like they belong in the NHL, and both look like they’re going to have very successful careers.
Jones and MacKinnon will meet Friday night for the first of what will be many matchups between the Predators and Avalanche for the foreseeable future. Colorado and Nashville are now in the same division, and Friday night could be the start of a new rivalry. Jones and MacKinnon are going to be competitors on a yearly basis in the Central Divison, but they are also friends. Jones has been looking forward to squaring off against MacKinnon in the NHL for the first time.
“He’s a fantastic player,” Jones said. “He’s going to do great things there in Colorado, and it should be fun playing against him again and seeing how he’s doing.”